Corps begins design phase for Isabella Dam Project

Published Dec. 27, 2012
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has signed the Record of Decision (ROD) and Dam Safety Modification Report for the Isabella Dam Safety Modification project, which allows for the official start of the next phase of the project.

The documents were signed at the Corps’ headquarters in Washington, D.C., by James Dalton, Chief of Engineering and Construction on Dec. 18.

This is the final step in the Environmental Impact Statement process as outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act. The ROD is a document that states what the decision is; identifies the alternatives considered, including the environmentally preferred alternative; and discusses mitigation plans, including any enforcement and monitoring commitments.

The Corps released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project on March 16, 2012. The DEIS was open for public comments until May 22, with the Corps holding a series of public meetings April 17-19. Taking into consideration the public’s comments, a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released Oct. 26, 2012, which outlined the Corps’ preferred plan to address the known issues at Isabella Lake’s two dams, and evaluates those actions’ effects on the environment, natural resources and daily life of affected residents. Public meetings were held Nov. 13-15 in Kernville, Lake Isabella and Bakersfield to discuss the selected plan, the details of which can be found on our website at

The signing of these documents allows the Corps’ Sacramento District, which is overseeing the project, to begin the preconstruction, engineering and design phase. This includes detailed design work, as well as preparing and awarding contracts for the project construction.

Completed in 1953, Isabella Dam is located approximately 42 miles northeast of Bakersfield. The reservoir is impounded by two earthen dams on the Kern River and Hot Springs Valley. Today, Isabella Lake and its dams help reduce flood risk for Bakersfield and the surrounding region, and are a primary water source for water users throughout Kern County. The Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project looks to address overtopping, seismic and seepage issues identified with Isabella Lake’s main and auxiliary dams to reduce the likelihood of dam failure.

DeDe Cordell

Release no. 12-053